The Gulf Disaster: a geologists take

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I'm a geologist by trade. In a former life I spent a few years working oil rigs, a couple of those on offshore rigs. Here's my analysis and worst fears, based on what I've gleaned from the news reports.
Analysis:
1. To save time/$, they didn't circulate the mud in the borehole ("bottoms up") before they set the liner. Had they done so, they would have identified the disasterous conditions before the disaster.
2. To save time/$, they "hung" the liner (ran it only from the bottom of the previous casing, rather than run it all the way up inside the previous casing to the BOP).
3. To save time/$, they used only 6 liner centralizers rather than the "recommended" 21 (recommended by whom I don't know). If the hole deviated at all from vertical (which I'm sure it did), that'd mean that in places, the liner would be placed up against the borehole sidewall rather than through the center of the borehole. That'd make it very hard to get an adequate cement seal of consistent thickness and strength along the entire length of the liner.
4. To save time/$, they used an inferior cement mix.
5. To save time/$, they didn't run a "cement bond log". To do this, they run a special tool on a wire line through the recently cemented interval, and log the qyaulity of the cement bond between the liner and the formation.
6. To save time/$, they displaced the drilling mud in the riser (above the BOP up to the drill rig on the surface) with sea water before the inferior cement had completely set, and without the normal plug in the casing below the BOP. This would drastically reduce the pressure head on the formation, and allow formation fluids to enter the borehole.
Now my "worst case" fear:
The bad cement job outside the liner failed; the gas/oil in the formation, under intense pressure (could be as high as 50,000 psi!) blew out and eroded the cement and possibly the liner, allowing it to flow unimpeded and expand quickly due to the pressure release, into the annular space outside the liner, and possibly into the liner, and into the previous casing. THE WORST WORST CASE: if they were to cap the well at the BOP, the pressure would overwhelm the cement-formation seal at the previous casing (where they hung the liner), and break down the higher formations and cement, and flow unimpeded outside the previous casing and BOP to the seafloor surface (cf: the Santa Barbara spill). If that was the case, there would be NO WAY to control the flow until the relief wells are completed (in August). Maybe that's why they "failed" to cap the well at the BOP.
Joe Barton should be hanged.
Sorry, just my $0.02 worth.
-Zz
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wrote:
I aplogize for forgetting the "OT" leader.
-Zz
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Really?
wrote:
I aplogize for forgetting the "OT" leader.
-Zz
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"Josepi" wrote:

FSA
Lew
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A request:
"Zz Yzx", may I have your permission to forward your comments to federal gov't officials? (Rep Waxman, Sen Boxer & Sen Feinstein as well as whitehouse.gov)
Lew
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The subject says it all, no need for an OT, IMNSHO. I agree, (as an expert biochemist <grin>) that capping this firing canon will be difficult if not impossible, and we'll have to eat oil until well after the relief wells are finished and used to inject cement at the bottom of the well. BPs only hope is that they can catch more of the oil fired out of the hole by the subsurface pressure.
--
Best regards
Han
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What are your thoughts on the Catastrophe possibility put forth: that the sea bottom will collapse (due to the BOP falling over) in the immediate vicinity of the well and cause a tsunami - among other cataclysmic issues?
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The well is about 18,000 feet deep below the seabed. It's highly unlikely that 18,000 feet of rock will suddenly collapse into a previously oil- filled void. Remember, the oil is being forced out by pressure. This pressure has to come from somewhere, and is most likely the surrounding rock slowly compressing the reservoir. As the reservoir empties, the rock will slowly settle into the available space.
What is maybe more likely, in addition to general poisoning of the Gulf ecosystem, is that the water temperature in the Gulf will rise to a point where the methane hydrates thaw out, releasing untold quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, not to mention toxic to most life, resulting in mass extinction on a global level. Sounds like fun?
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Hadn't thought about the hydrates! Ever read "Swarm"?
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"BP engineers planned to shut off pipes that are already funneling some oil to two ships, to see how the cap handles the pressure of the crude coming up from the ground. Then they planned to close, one by one, three valves that let oil pass through the cap."
Got to catch a few more dollars worth of oil, before turning off the spigot, eh?
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They have to stop the flow gradually .. if they slam it shut, it will cause the world's largest case of "water hammer" and it could be enough to blow a hole someplace in the earth's crust that could NEVER be repaired.
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These are people who only care about 'yield'. Now their gold is flowing into the Gulf instead of their coffers. They truly don't give a rat's ass about the environment other than the fact that it affects their 'brand'. Yes, BP would like to stop the negative publicity but their true and main concern is to have their cake AND eat it too. They want to look good, but keep the oil as well. They would like to make that naughty well pay for the clean-up.
And as far as that pinprick in the earth's crust is concerned? That's like worrying about a hippo's bowels trying to ooze out through a mosquito bite. BP uses a well-proven tactic by using fear so that the population can applaud them when they finally triumph over this leak...but they want to keep the oil too.
BP has only one motive. ONE only. It is called money. They will say, do, promise anything with a straight face to get things their way, and considering the political connections those oil people have, they have a great pool of PR resources to draw from; the Republicans who have a bit of experience in that (Iraq) sort of thing.
I wonder which BP department is busier these days. Public Relations or Engineering.
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"Robatoy" wrote:

a rat's ass about the environment other than the fact that it affects their 'brand'. Yes, BP would like to stop the negative publicity but their true and main concern is to have their cake AND eat it too. They want to look good, but keep the oil as well. They would like to make that naughty well pay for the clean-up. ------------------------------------ Basic definition of the function of a corporation, any corporation.
Lew
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Absolutely. No way was I trying to infer that BP's dealings were anything unusual. But those types of corporations are aware that 'brand' is also valuable. It is one of the first pages in the corporate textbooks: "don't matter what we are/do, what do we look like to those who buy our shit." The one page is still being written: "How do we get out of this situation AND keep our stuff." Within that framework, that 20 billion BP promised Obama they were going to pay was nothing more than a political move to make Obama look like he's doing something in exchange for 'cooperation' from all those who are in Obama's pocket. Obama can't piss BP off too much, he also needs contributions. So, the headline being written, just in time for elections: " Obama's skillful handling of the situation allowed BP to save the day and humanity."
It's all smoke and mirrors, cardboard replicas and short pieces of string. Sweep away the bullshit and the Chicken Littles and what you have is: "how can we make the best of this oops in the Gulf."
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Robatoy wrote:

Yeah, thats the headline alright....
What a maroon!
--
Jack
If Ignorance is Bliss, You must be One Happy Liberal!
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When are you going to grow a sense of humour?
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On Thu, 15 Jul 2010 08:00:36 -0700 (PDT), Robatoy
He's not mentally capable of it.
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Robatoy wrote:

Mea Culpa.
I notice the bammer meister has now included himself in stopping the leak and pressure testing the cap. Even a maroon like yourself should recognize how your humor attempt would conflict with the bammers delusions.
He should be in jail for blocking every effort to minimize the environmental damage caused by the spill. If I didn't give him credit for being one of the dumbest humans on earth, I'd give him credit for causing the spill itself to further his cap and tax bullshit agenda.
--
Jack
Got Change: More Unemployment! More Debt! More Fraud! Less Freedom!
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On Wed, 14 Jul 2010 05:36:25 -0700 (PDT), Robatoy wrote:

Don't know about the rest of the country or Canada, but there are a lot of BP stations in the South and in the last 3 weeks the larger BP logos are disappearing from the stations. The only place the BP logo is left is on the flourescent signs, I guess it takes longer to replace the signs.

Might as well use it now that it is turned loose.

I personally don't care if BP survives as a viable company or not (it will). However, hopefully they can be forced into supporting those most affected and cleaning up at least part of the spill.

I would bet there is more sweating and hand wringing in the PR department.
Alabama has more pressing problems than greasy beaches, starving fishermen and a shut down tourist industry, we have bingo wars.
basilisk
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Haven't seen any, though there's only a couple of BP stations in the county. I didn't see any fewer on the way to Atlanta last weekend, or Birmingham two weeks earlier.

I hope they do. I'd rather not have one fewer competitor.

I don't know how the "bingo" parlors stayed open as long as they did. I've only been here a couple of years, but obviously the entire state is corrupt.
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